Spa Night
Spa Night
U.S. Narrative Centerpiece
(USA, 2016, 93 min)
In English and Korean with English subtitles
Directed By: Andrew Ahn

Director Statement

"A few years ago, I was out with my friends in West Hollywood. One of my friends told us that he had a hot hook-up with a guy in a steam room of a Korean spa. He went into more detail. He was very proud of himself. I was shocked.

The Korean spa has been a part of my life since I was a child. I went to the spa with my family; it was a cultural ritual, a tradition. Going to the spa felt very Korean. Suddenly, the spa had taken on a different context; now, it was very gay! As a gay Korean-American man, I have spent much of my life separating these two sides of my identity. Through steam, glass, and exposed bodies, my two identities meet at the spa. I knew it would be the perfect location to set a film about being a gay Korean-American man.

SPA NIGHT is the story of a Korean-American immigrant family in Los Angeles. It is the story about how culture, sexuality, and family influence our lives. We shot the film in June 2015 with a cast and crew of dedicated artists. It was physically and emotionally draining work. Lead actor Joe Seo gave himself to his character David, mining his own family life for inspiration. His dedication and connection to the character had me in tears. We shot scene after scene in steam rooms and dry saunas in the middle of the night. My DP Ki Jin Kim never lost focus, sweat dripping down his face. I lost 10 pounds in 17 days from stress and adrenaline.

It was all worth it. We premiered the film at this year's Sundance Film Festival in U.S. Dramatic Competition. Joe won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. Audience members came up to me after screenings to talk about their experiences as Korean-Americans, as LGBTQ people, as the children of immigrants. I'm so glad Spa Night gave people an opportunity to reflect on their own lives. It was a magical 10 days in Utah, but I'm looking forward to our hometown screening. I'm so excited to screen this film at Outfest this year for our Los Angeles premiere!

Koreatown is a big part, both physically and culturally, of Los Angeles; even the Outfest offices are located there! However, it is so rarely seen in film or television in any meaningful way. Spa Night may not be as glitzy as a Hollywood film or as moody as a film noir, but it showcases the strength, diversity, and beauty of our city in a way that hasn't been seen.

As an organization, Outfest has supported my career with so much care. I have screened my short films at Outfest, participated in Outfest Forward programs, and met a community of queer filmmakers who push and inspire me. This organization has also helped nurture my personal journey as a gay man. I took my mother to a screening of Fusion, Outfest's People of Color Film Festival. I have seen films that have taught me about LGBTQ history, a history I never learned in school. I am so thankful for Outfest that I do what I can to give back; I am a proud member of the organization and a mentor for OutSet, Outfest's youth filmmaking program.

For all these reasons, I am excited to be a part of this year's festival with SPA NIGHT. I hope to see you all in July!"
Centerpiece Post-Screening Reception: DGA Atrium; hosted by the Outfest Emerging Leaders Council
Screening Schedule
Mon, Jul 11th 7:00pm

This event is already past
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